I love Gotham but it wasn’t always that way. The DC series that takes us back before Bruce Wayne donned his mask premiered in 2014 and at first I wasn’t completely sure about its vision. The issues I had were two fold the first being what is a Batman series without Batman. The second was that DC sadly doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to their modern adaptations.
As a huge Marvel comics fan the singular concept and strategy they have employed in bringing their amazing characters to the big and small screen is undeniably revolutionary as they have tied everything together in a wonderful cinematic world that is ever expanding and deeply rewarding the more you view.
Obviously everyone wants to recreate this and it would seem DC were in the perfect position however somehow they haven’t found the right path as of yet. Interestingly to me it seems their issue is the huge success of Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies. Whereas Marvel could build everything from scratch DC already had a hit and have become fixated on recreating the same dark image Nolan laid out limiting them greatly when it comes to the lighter characters in their canon.
Film wise many recent DC movies have failed either to capture Nolan’s success or innovate far away enough from it however their TV series have been a revelation. Both Arrow and Flash where wonderful re-treading the perfect path Smallville laid previously blending action and fun into origin stories that drew in comic nerds and new fans alike.
Coming to Gotham the immensely talented creator Bruno Heller had a very different view of what he wanted. Taking us into a much darker world than the other shows it also stepped out of time creating a blend of modern day and period piece focusing on Ben McKenzie as Jim Gordon the one good cop in a city more corrupt than anywhere else on earth.
Building from the bottom up brilliantly we slowly saw the creation not only of the corrupt and chaotic world in which Batman, who at this point is just a lost and angry orphaned child, would latter come to save but the raft of villains he combat’s from Oswald Cobblepot aka Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor), Edward Nygma aka Riddler (Cory Michael Smith) and Selina Kyle aka Cat Woman (Camren Bicondova) as well as many, many others.
Best of all this third season focussed primarily on these villains many of which had broken out of a top secret facility at the end of season two to wreak havoc on Gotham. With Jim Gordon taking matters into his own hands as a bounty hunter in order to save the city that he loves the Gotham City Police Department’s remain on the frontline fighting against crime and destruction in the monster-ridden city. All the while, a young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) discovers that there are still more secrets behind his parents’ murder as he peels back the curtain on the infamous criminal organization known as the Court of Owls.
Cast wise everyone is excellent and the series has taken some real risks developing the characters in very different directions to the way many may have seen them before particularly in Series Two when they take on one of Batman’s most famous joke making faces. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of nods to the comics and the episodes are packed with references and homages along the way to keep even the most obsessive fans happy.
What works best of all is the merging together of every adaptation of Batman that has so far ever existed into one crazy world. The influences of Nolan are rife but there is also echoes of Tim Burton’s twisted gothic take seen in Cobblepot and his mother most obviously, of Joel Schumacher’s camp dayglow daydream particularly visible in the casting of Cory Michael Smith as Riddler who visually and verbally evokes Jim Carrey and even the 1960’s series with some particularly ridiculous crime capers taking place throughout.
Although sadly it seems Gotham probably won’t link up to any other DC series this constant inventiveness and willingness to play with the huge toy box the legacy and history of Batman brings to the table keeps the series fresh and fascinating and viewers glued to the screen and Gotham The Complete Third Season is no exception with 22 episodes of entertainment and a whole load of extras.
In fact the series is so good it will leave you thinking who needs Batman when you have Gotham!